I have to tell you I was quite surprised when I went to visit an old friend who had just moved into his new home. He lived a ways away from me so I wasn’t able to check out the construction until it was done. The house looked great from the outside, a Craftman’s style from the early 1900’s, but it was what was inside that gave me a start.
All his main floor was exposed concrete. They didn’t look like the floor in your garage though. Every floor is polished to a high shine that really looks great. I asked why he chose concrete and he said there were several reasons. The first and Concrete paint foremost being that his heating system is enclosed in the slab. This offers very nice heat transfer and keeps you feet want and cozy on cold, damp nights. Being from the Northwest where electricity rates are lower than in other parts of the country, he chose an electrical heated hot water system. So far this has worked out great for him and the temperature in the home stays constant because of the mass in the floor that stores heat energy.
The second thing he liked was the durability of concrete over most other floor systems. A concrete floor is almost indestructible as long as it is installed properly. The biggest concern people have about this type of floor is potential cracking. Concrete cracks are caused by pouring too large a slab with no expansion and contraction joints or by settling of the foundation soil. Both of these problems can be alleviated with the proper forethought.
And of course there is ease of maintenance. He polished the floors to a high, glossy shine and now he just needs to maintain that surface a few times a year. Other than that, it is just sweeping or vacuuming and the occasional mopping with soap and water.
The only place he didn’t leave the concrete exposed was in the bathroom in which he laid Travertine tiles. His shower is also Travertine so the combination looks great. The same heating system is used in this room so there is no stepping out onto a cold floor from a hot shower.
As I said, I was really surprised at the choice of flooring because the rest of the house is mostly natural wood. But it is in the country so the floor does offer an elegant, rustic look. If you are building a new home then don’t just throw out the idea of finishing the concrete slab and leaving it uncovered. You may be surprised at how great a surface you can get. And this isn’t even taking into account the many concrete paints, concreted stains, and coatings which you can apply if you so choose.